Reduce & Reuse

Every time a new product is made it takes a lot of resources - raw materials, energy to manufacture and fuel to transport to the store.  Reducing and reusing is one of the most effective way to conserve natural resources.  And there are actually a few easy ways to start and make an impact!

Easy
Households: 2 completed, 7 committed
1750
Points ?
$0
Annual Savings
$0 - $0
Upfront Cost
These are estimates
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Energy and water savings

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kWh Electricity
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Therms Natural Gas
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Gallons Gas
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Gallons Water
  • Save money
  • Conserve natural resources
  • Reduce carbon emissions and air and water pollution

Overview

The Action
We will reduce or reuse and lower our garbage sent to the landfill.
Is this action for me?
Yes! This action is for everyone.
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime, by anyone.
How long will it take?
Quick - just a few minutes of research, creativity or planning to discover ways to reduce and reuse.
What is the cost?
No cost - and extra savings!

Benefits

  • Save money

  • Conserve natural resources

  • Reduce carbon emissions and air and water pollution

Resources

Programs

Pledge to reduce plastic waste and win $160 worth of zero waste items.

The Basics

The recycling symbol actually represents three R’s - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Most people focus on Recycling, probably because that is the one we hear most about. However, the first two - Reduce and Reuse - are far more effective at saving resources, energy and money. Check out some easy ways to get started below.

Checklist

Get rid of junk mail
Connect with neighbors to borrow, sell, buy, swap or share
Rent or Donate
Buy used over new
Buy to last and fix it if it breaks
Choose less packaging
Choose reusable over disposable

Ditch the junk mail

One of the easiest ways to reduce is to reduce the amount of paper you use.  The first place to start?  Your mailbox.  Did you know that you can change your mail preferences online and get rid of the junk mail you receive?  Just go to https://www.dmachoice.org/ and sign up!

Another easy way to reduce paper use is switching to online magazines and newspaper subscriptions and signing up for online bill and bank statements instead of paper copies.  Also, print double-sided when possible and use scrap paper for notes.  It takes a lot of energy and resources to make paper, so reducing really makes a difference!

Check Nextdoor - borrow, sell, freecycle or share

One of the best ways to reduce and reuse resources is to connect with your neighbors and borrow, swap, buy, sell, or share stuff.  If there is something you need only occasionally, consider borrowing or sharing with a neighbor or friend.  If there is something you don’t need anymore, post it to Freecycle or sell.  From borrowing a tool for a home repair to selling that extra bookcase, you can find many resources in your neighborhood!  

Most neighborhoods have some way to communicate and post messages, from bulletin boards to email lists to Nextdoor.  If your neighborhood isn’t on Nextdoor yet, consider checking it out.  It’s a great, free tool for communicating, posting and sharing information. It makes it easy to hear about stuff your neighbors have to sell or give away and it's easy to post when you are looking for something to borrow or sell.

To expand your options, larger lists like Freecycle and Craigslist provide another great resource to post your item or search for something you need.  Another option is to use or start a lending library in your neighborhood to share and borrow tools and portable appliances or electronics.  Reducing and reusing with your neighbors saves energy and resources!  It is also a chance to meet your neighbors!  You may find you have other things in common and other ways to connect.

Other options - rent or donate

Another option for things you use occasionally is renting.  A great example of this is tools or sporting equipment like camping gear.  Many hardware stores have tool rentals, and many sporting goods stores rent camping and other sports equipment.  This not only saves resources, but also it can save you quite a bit of money.  Some other great rental items include:  cars, bikes, party supplies, textbooks and formal or designer clothes.

If you don’t need it anymore, consider donating.  If items are gently worn, passing them on to someone who can use them will save resources and reduce your impact.  It also helps others, making low-cost items available to help meet a tight budget.  From furniture to appliances, tools, clothing, books and toys, almost anything can be passed on to someone else to enjoy.  There are many organizations like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity ReStores and local shelters and churches that will be happy to receive your donated items and find them a new home.  Donations are generally tax deductible.  Don’t forget to ask for a donation receipt!

Buy used

Buying used can save lots of money and make a big difference in your budget.  In addition to your neighborhood lists, there are many other places to shop for used items including Ebay, yard sales, and consignment and antique stores.  Every time you buy used, you save lots of energy that would have been used to create new stuff!

Make it last

If you do buy new, look for well made, quality items that will last.  This might cost a bit more, but you will generally save a lot by not having to replace the item right away.  This is especially true for larger purchases like furniture and major appliances.  Once you purchase it, make sure to clean and maintain it for even more savings over time.  

If you have an item that needs repair, don’t just throw it out!  First, see if you can fix it or have it repaired for a reasonable price.  If not, consider posting it on your neighborhood list and you might find someone else who is handy who will take it for free and fix it.

Choose less packaging

Packaging makes up a large portion of what gets sent to the landfill - particularly styrofoam and other packing materials that are difficult to recycle.  Before you make a purchase, notice how much packaging you'll have to throw away.  If two products are equally good, consider choosing the one with less packaging.  In addition to filling up our landfills, packaging requires energy and resources to make - mostly low-quality plastic made from fossil fuels - and even more energy to cart away as garbage.

One great way to avoid extra packaging is to buy in bulk.  Some items to consider buying in bulk include nonperishable goods like shampoo, toilet paper and peanut butter.  This not only saves on packaging, it will also save you money!  You can make using bulk items less cumbersome by refilling smaller containers for daily use.

Choose reusable

Disposable products waste significant resources.  Paper plates and cups for example, use a huge amount of resources and energy to create, only to be thrown in the garbage after one use.  Whenever possible, choose products that are reusable.  Some easy everyday ways to go reusable include:  water bottles, coffee mugs, cloth bags for groceries, rechargeable batteries, razors, gift bags and cloth napkins.

Bring your own portable coffee mug next time you buy coffee!  In general, try to avoid anything that says "disposable."  Old t-shirts make great rags instead of paper towels.  If you have a baby in diapers there are diaper services that will provide you regular pickup and delivery of clean reusable diapers.